Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

An important quality in any good theology student is the ability to study: to have the academic know-how to evaluate the culture and the community in which one serves to bring the Word of God into the lives of the people. Language and cultural studies in the field are important to this, but one must also be well-versed in the disciplines of theological study: exegetics, systematics, historical, and practical theology. These four main areas of theological study are addressed in the curriculum at CLET, though they are not mainly for the classroom, but for life. Indeed, our Lord Jesus spoke to the people in their language and used images from their culture to proclaim the gospel. Jesus is true God, and He is also a Jew from the first century. He demonstrates both of his natures in His Ministry to teach and to save humanity. So also, a pastor must see and interpret the world through the theological lens of the Word of God to serve and to speak faithfully.

Any good student and sincere teacher will be aware of their own limitations. We all can relate to the teacher in high school or in college who had a great impact on our thought and development in how we approach life and our vocations – be they vocations in the church, or in professional “secular” careers. No good teacher will ever tell their student to simply listen to them and their own presentation of the truth or discipline they teach. A good teacher will guide their students to critique and to research the claims from the classroom to evaluate if they really are true. This is why schools and universities have libraries. The libraries serve to give students and teachers access to the voices and the studies of others – other faculties, perspectives from other cultures, language groups, and religions. A library serves to keep a student and an institution honest and well-prepared to defend the claims that are taught in the institution.

At CLET we also have our library. And this has come at no small sacrifice from the part of previous missionaries and generous donors around the world. We have added more French volumes with special one-time gifts and from the travels of members of our LCMS-OIM missionary team in France. However, our greatest change came this winter 2017/2018 with the arrival of the container from the United States with over 2,000 volumes in English from the Chemnitz Library Initiative and a grant from Mission Central to purchase around 400 new volumes in French. In order to accommodate all of the new volumes, shelving had to be installed on wall space, and free-standing metal shelving units were erected in the middle of the library room. Given all of the fluctuations in temperature and humidity, the climate in our part of Africa is not kind to paper books. Since we want to keep the books in good condition, new drapes were added to the windows to keep the sunlight from damaging the volumes and fans were installed to ensure ample air flow to avoid the growth of mold. Additional lighting has been added to help reading, and new computers with wifi and printer connection have also been installed for the students' use.

Inculcating a love for reading in our students is also a challenge. In order for a child to become what we call “bookish” they need to have access to books. Books are lacking in Africa. Most children will attend all of their schooling without ever having a hardcover book to take home and study. All information has to be copied from the blackboard into a notebook and memorized for the tests. Comprehension of what is memorized is not a priority. Sometimes in certain African contexts, asking questions of the teacher in class is considered rude and disrespectful against the teacher's honor. You can imagine that after years in such an educational context, it is a real challenge to encourage our CLET students to reflect upon and ask pertinent questions in class and to pursue independent studies in addition to their already prescribed class readings. Despite the challenges in this regard, we do notice some changes. Certain students will check out books to read at home, and others will gladly check out a book that addresses a matter on a question they raised in class. Of course, the luxury of time to study depends on the stability in one's family and personal life. It is difficult to concentrate on studies when your immediate family is struggling with sickness or fatigue from excessive heat, or if you have found out about a death of a loved one back home and you are distraught because you cannot go back home to attend the funeral. Your absence may hurt your honor or the honor of your family in the community.

Such are some of the challenges that make academic studies difficult in francophone Africa. However, if our students are to be faithful shepherds, they need to know how to be caring toward their people and also caring towards the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran church. If they are not aware of the differences in practice that are tied to different teachings, they may unwittingly adopt heretical or sectarian practices that will later be difficult to wean the parishes from.

We pray that the studies in our classrooms and library will equip our CLET graduates to critique and collaborate in a loving and civil manner with their brothers in the Ministry and the lay leaders of their churches, so that the good people would be cared for and edified by the Good Word.

In Christ,

Rev. Jacob W. Gaugert
Centre Luthérien D'Études Theologiques
B.P. 53
Dapaong
TOGO

Togocell # (+228) 93 43 95 26
T-Mobile Intl. # (262) 271-3813



About our Missionary ...

Reverend Jacob W. Gaugert was ordained in April, 2010. at Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in theological and classical languages. He attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana for two years and spent an acedemic year as Vicar for St. Mary's Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany. He received his M. Div. degree from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2010. He served as Vacancy Pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Whiting, Indiana from 2011-2013.

In 2013, Reverend Gaugert answered a call as a career missionary to teach at a Lutheran Seminary in Dapaong, Togo (West Africa).